Urgent work to clean up the debris of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster is facing a delay of more than three months.
Contracts for four critical engineering studies that should have been awarded at the end of April now look unlikely to be placed before the end of July.
The studies, which must be completed before remedial work can begin on the rapidly deteriorating shelter around Chernobyl’s shattered number four reactor, are expected to take about two years.
AEA Technology and Ove Arup are the leading UK bidders. Others include Canatom of Canada and SGN of France.
Bids for the four contracts were not even opened until 6 May, after the Ukrainian nuclear authority Energoatom finally signed an agreement with the project management unit.
Tenders for each contract are expected to take two weeks to evaluate.
Evaluation of the tenders was originally going to be carried out concurrently but are now to be done sequentially apparently because of manpower constraints.
This means the process will take 6-8 weeks and will not be complete before July, when the arrival of the holiday season is likely to postpone the awards for a further month.
‘The whole thing is just getting more and more stretched out,’ commented one bidder.